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Med Teach. 2017 Jan;39(1):67-73. doi: 10.1080/0142159X.2016.1231914. Epub 2016 Oct 31.

The impact of socially-accountable health professional education: A systematic review of the literature.

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a School of Medicine, Flinders University , Alice Springs , Australia.
b College of Medicine , James Cook University , Townsville , Australia.
c The Training for Health Equity Network , Brussels , Belgium.
d School of Medicine , Ateneo de Zamboanga University , Zamboanga , Philippines.
e School of Health Sciences , University of the Philippines Manila , Palo , Leyte , The Philippines.


This literature review describes the impact of health professional schools with a social accountability mandate by identifying characteristics of medical education found to impact positively on medical students, health workforce, and health outcomes of disadvantaged communities. A critical appraisal tool was used to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the published articles. Data are presented as a narrative synthesis due to the variety of methodologies in the studies, and characterized using a logic model. Health professional schools aiming to improve health outcomes for their disadvantaged local communities described collaborative partnerships with communities, equitable selection criteria, and community-engaged placements in underserved areas as positively impacting the learning and attitudes of students. Students of socially accountable schools were more likely to stay in rural areas and serve disadvantaged communities, and were often more skilled than students from more traditional schools to meet the needs of underserved communities. However, published literature on the impact of socially accountable health professional education on communities and health outcomes is limited, with only one study investigating health outcomes. The findings of this literature review guide schools on the inputs likely to maximize their socially accountability outputs and increase their impact on students, local health workforce and local communities.

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